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CAT Topper Shantanu Yadav with 99.7%ile got into IIM Ahmedabad: Read His Success Story and Strategy to Prepare for Exam
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Shantanu Singh Yadav is one name that made its mark in the year 2019 by securing the top position in CAT. Hailing from the small town of Surat in Gujarat, he scored 99.73 percentile in CAT 2019 exam and has converted a host of top B-schools, including IIM Ahmedabad

Shantanu comes from a humble service class family and is a graduate of NIT Hamirpur. He has worked in the fertilizer industry for 3 years while studying for CAT. He enjoys football and has a variety of hobbies and interests, including photography, hiking, and trekking.

CAT Topper

While speaking with Collegedunia, Shantanu shared some valuable insights on how he prepared for CAT besides mentioning self-study and practice of CAT Mock Test as a strategy to crack the test. Read the full interview to know more.

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Ques. Was this your first attempt at CAT exam?

Ans. No, I took CAT in 2018 and scored 95.73 percentile, but I wanted to retake the exam to get into my dream B-school. So, this was my second attempt at the exam.

Ques. How was your overall performance in CAT? Please share your scores and percentile.


Section Percentile
VARC 89.44
DILR 99.76
QA 99.86
Overall 99.73

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Ques. How did you prepare for CAT exam as a whole?

Ans. My first attempt for CAT in 2018 landed me admissions to a few new and young IIMs. CAT 2019 was my second attempt at the test. In May this year, I resumed my preparations, concentrating primarily on mock exams and effectively timing my attempts. I began cross-checking and analyzing my incorrect responses, something I had never done previously. 

Although the quants section was my strong suit, I gave each of the three sections equal attention, with a special emphasis on DI and LR, which I believe is the most unpredictable section of the exam. You might study a tonne of LR sets before the test, but you could still have problems on the big day. LR sets are not as simple as Quant or DI sets.

Ques. Did you join any coaching center for CAT preparation?

Ans. I had signed up for IMS mocks because they are well-structured and similar to CAT mocks. For WAT-GD-PI, I self-prepared and received guidance from IMS Surat.

Ques. Please share your section-wise preparation strategy with us.


  • VARC - For Verbal and RC, I used to read posts from a variety of fields to get a sense of the difficulties involved in comprehending and remembering a column that isn't familiar to you. Reading articles from newspapers and business journals not only helped with the VA and RC, but it also provided a firm foundation for acing the current affairs round of the interview and GD rounds.
  • DILR - I concentrated on LR and LR-based DI sets for DILR because you rarely see a pure DI set in the actual exam these days. Since the LR portion of the CAT is the most unpredictable, I devised a plan to solve and analyze every set I encountered during mocks or practice from dedicated books. You'll find plenty of LR sets to solve if you search for practice content on GoogleDrive. The DI LR segment of the IMS mocks helped a lot because the questions were very similar to the ones that were asked in the CAT Exam.
  • Quant - I thoroughly prepared for Quants by studying Arun Sharma's books and using a timed approach to solve at least 25-28 questions from different topics in under 60 minutes. Aside from that, I solved previous years' CAT papers using just the on-screen calculator.

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Ques. How important were CAT mock tests in your success? How many practice exams did you take before the exam?

Ans. It is impossible to overestimate the value of mock exams. They provide constant feedback on one's results, informative analysis, and a sense of where you stand in comparison to other exam takers, all of which can help boost one's trust and/or motivation.

Ques. What were your weak points and what strategies did you use to address your weak points?

Ans. During my initial training, I was a little behind in VARC and DILR. There is only one way to deal with VA, and that is to read, read, and read. Read from sources which you are unfamiliar with. Read international journals/magazines, editorials in international newspapers, and so on. For LR, I used a timed approach to solve as many sets as I could, to crack the set in 10-12 minutes.

Ques. Which books did you refer to for CAT preparation?

Ans. I referred to some good books for my preparation:

Name of the Book Author
Quantum CAT S K Verma
Quantitative Aptitude R S Aggarwal
Word Power Made Easy Norman Lewis

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Ques. What were your exam-day tactics?

Ans. The best D-Day strategy is to skip any last-minute preparations. Rest and sleep well the day before the exam; there isn't anything you can do for a day's planning. Since the CAT syllabus is so wide, with no fixed boundaries for VARC and DILR, last-minute cramming is usually fruitless and adds to the stress. 

Ques. Which of the top business schools has offered you admission, and which one have you chosen?

Ans. I converted IIM Calcutta, IIM Shillong, MDI Gurgaon, and all Baby IIMs in addition to having a final admission bid from IIM Ahmedabad. Finally, I've decided to enroll at IIM Ahmedabad.

Ques. Please tell us about your academic and family background? Do you have any professional experience as well?

Ans. In 2017, I completed my graduation in Chemical Engineering from NIT Hamirpur. In class X, I received 91.2 percent; in class XII, 90.2 percent; and in graduation, 82.6 percent. I have worked in the fertilizer industry for 3 years. I come from a working-class background. My father is in the military, my mother is a housewife, and my younger brother is in the 11th grade.

Ques. What other exams did you take besides CAT?

Ans. Besides CAT 2019, I took XAT 2020 exam and scored 99.914%; I also took the IIFT 2020 exam and scored 98.74 percentile.

Ques. Do you have any idols who you look up to?

Ans. My parents are my idols because they inculcate in me the courage to be who I am and who I want to be. And my father has done well in all academics, and my mother has been a moral help, so I get the best of both worlds as their only child.

Ques. Your parting words and advice for candidates preparing for CAT exam in the future.

Ans. I'd like to give the following four suggestions to potential candidates:

  • Serious aspirants should begin preparations before August, as there would be very little time to complete the entire syllabus otherwise.
  • I will advise aspirants to take their mock tests seriously and analyze each one thoroughly afterward. Mental preparation is just as critical as covering the fundamentals and taking mock exams.
  • Simply maintain a routine study schedule, remove weaknesses, and concentrate on your strengths. Find the right combination between precision and pace for you.
  • Most importantly, be relaxed during the exam. Don't get too worked up or worried. If you want to, you should meditate. Everything else will be perfect!